(AMMAN, Jordan) -- Eleven men have been arrested by Jordanian intelligence services which accuse them of planning a “major terrorist plot” involving an attack on shopping centers, residential buildings and foreigners, including diplomats.
Jordan’s state-run news agency, Petra, reported on Sunday that the plan was uncovered months ago during its early stages as the accused terrorists carried out surveillance on potential targets and armed themselves with explosives, guns and mortars.
The men were described as “terrorists associated with the ideology of Al Qaeda.” Photos posted on the agency’s website showed four of the men with the bushy beards often associated with Salafism, an ultra-conservative brand of Islam.
The plot, it was reported, was dubbed “9/11 (2),” and would start with an attack on diplomats in hotels. Then, two shopping malls would be bombed, followed by other attacks using TNT and “new types of explosives to be used for the first time.”
Some of the weapons allegedly came from Syria and the accused were said to have consulted with al Qaeda explosives experts over the Internet. Suicide bombers and car bombs would also be used.
The Jordanian authorities said the group was “under constant surveillance at every stage” and that they had started choosing members to carry out the attacks.
“Their objective was to create a highly destructive explosive that would cause the highest number of casualties and extensive physical damage,” said the statement on the Petra website.
Jordan has not seen the protests and violence that many of its neighbors have during the so-called Arab Spring, but discontent with the ruling monarchy is growing. Earlier this month, King Abdullah II dissolved parliament and new elections have been announced for January. Around 15,000 people, most of them supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood, called for reform on Oct. 5 in the biggest demonstrations the country has seen since the Arab Spring began.
Jordan has also taken more than 200,000 Syrian refugees, with that number expected to grow dramatically in the coming months as the violence in Syria continues unabated. A second refugee camp is due to open to cope with the influx.
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